COVID-19 has hindered all aspects of life since March 2020. One specific element it has changed is the workforce and how it functions during these unprecedented times. COVID-19 has caused a grand shift in the workforce, forcing many companies to convert to remote work. Remote work used to be a perk for some careers, but it has become the norm during these odd times. Even when these times are over, it seems that remote work is here to stay.
In 2021, the amount of employees working remotely is expected to double. Many companies are planning a hybrid work model. These models allocate some days to in-person meetings and other days to remote work. Even after the pandemic ends, 74% of companies are expected to permanently shift their employees to a remote or hybrid workspace. This rearrangement has been encouraged by large tech companies. For instance, Twitter allowed employees to work remotely indefinitely in May 2020. Square, run by Twitter’s Jack Dorsey, has also revealed that they will allow employees to work remotely even after offices reopen.
Remote work has shown promising results, as 94% of remote employees reported that remote work was as just productive as in-person work, if not more. For employees, remote work provides a better work-life balance than in-person work. Employees can choose when they want to work, and can also work when there is inclement weather. This flexibility ultimately leads to better productivity, especially since employees will focus more on the work done rather than the hours put in. In addition, remote work lessens the need for headquarters which saves money for companies. Companies can choose to move to smaller spaces, which cuts costs. It also decreases the stress of commuting for employees who may live far from their office.
Though remote work has shown its potential during this pandemic, there are also a few downsides. One major issue is cyber security. Cisco’s Future of Secure Remote Work Report claimed that 85% of respondents believe that cyber security is more important now than ever. Accessing and securing data could potentially be problematic if an outside source gets their hands on it. In order to protect data and employees, companies will need to invest in digital infrastructure. Another major concern is engagement within a team. Working in-person allows employees to build strong relationships with their coworkers, but engagement will be limited virtually since most communication is done through email. Active meetings and participation in virtual events will be essential to ensure that employees do not miss out on collaborating with their peers.
COVID-19 has given remote work the spotlight to prove that it is efficient and productive. Though companies will need to restructure several policies and processes, the results shown over the course of this past year are promising. Large companies are already taking the leap to stay remote and it’s only a matter of time before other companies begin to follow their lead. Whether the pros outweigh the cons is something that only time can tell.